Hello, and welcome to another edition of EDH’s Hidden Gems! Inspired by my recent article spotlighting Commander 2015’s green Wrath, Ezuri’s Predation, in today’s followup edition of EDH Hidden Gems, I will be tackling some recent Wrath of God variants, and hopefully shedding some light on sweeper spells that I never see anyone use in Commander.
Let’s take a look!
I believe that Wrath effects are a hugely important thing to have access to in multiplayer. EDH is a format where powerful creatures routinely hit play, and players can develop nearly unstoppable boards full of monsters. In cases like this, a timely Wrath effect to reset the board is a necessity, to prevent opponents from getting out of hand.
My EDH decks generally pack a wide variety of Wrath of God effects, with commonly-used ones being: the original Wrath of God and its black counterpart Damnation; the colorless trio of Nevinyrral’s Disk, Oblivion Stone, and All is Dust (three ways for black and red to destroy problem enchantments as well as creatures); the utterly destructive trio of Akroma’s Vengeance, Austere Command, and Planar Cleansing; and, of course, the mighty Living Death, which doubles as mass recursion.
Waaaaaay back in Hidden Gems #5, I went over lesser-known Wrath effects that can be excellent in EDH. In part one, I went over Wraths that double as creatures, and in part two, I went over sweeper spells. I revisited Wrath effects once again in Hidden Gems #17: A Followup on Wrath effects here, as I find sweeper spells to be just that important in EDH.
Since that time, Wizards has printed more and more Wrath variants, each of which has its own place in the format as well.
Let’s take a look at the new Wraths that have been printed since that last article!
Fumigate and Sublime Exhalation:
We start today’s list with two variants of the classic Wrath of God; one gains you life, and one can cost a little less depending on how many people you are playing against. There isn’t too much to say about these two, they’re quite simple and straightforward.
It is worth mentioning that Sublime Exhalation can be great for a five-color deck (since it only costs a single white mana, it’s easily splashable), but that’s the major upside here.
Engulf the Shore and Coastal Breach:
These are two big bounce spells, and timed right can completely destroy opponents. Engulf is often played alongside creatures with large toughness (so, creatures that wouldn’t be bounced by it), and Coastal Breach, much like its predecessors Evacuation and Devastation Tide, is excellent when paired with a Wheel of Fortune effect (make your opponents pick up all their stuff, then discard it).
I have Engulf the Shore in our Sea Monster tribal deck, Jalira, Master Polymorphist, where it’s done a lot of work. Coastal Breach is currently in our Vial Smasher the Fierce/Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix four color deck, where it’s both great at bouncing things, works with all the Wheel effects in the deck, and deals a bunch of damage to people thanks to Vial Smasher.
These are great budget options, so if you’re looking for a mass bounce spell, give them a try.
When Commander 2016 came out, this card was one of my favorites printed in that set of precons (and there were a lot of cards that I liked!) Boompile gives you a colorless way to deal with all nonland permanents… this is a big deal for black/red EDH players, who can’t normally deal with enchantments, green EDH players, who can’t normally kill creatures, and colorless EDH players, who can’t normally Wrath anything at all.
(The drawback, of course, is that you have to be able to win a coin flip. Despite how bad I am at doing that, I like this card anyway.)
I have this card in our Jalum Grifter coin-flipping deck, where it is a solid Wrath to punish people with. For now, I’ve left it out of our colorless deck (Karn, Silver Golem), though it could have a place there; I’ve also left it out of our R/B deck, Malfegor, as I have enough colorless Wraths in there currently.
This is a very underrated budget Wrath, and may be secretly the best Wrath on this list that no one plays.
This was the card from Aether Revolt that I was secretly most excited for (I love useful uncommon cards, since they’re always much cheaper than rares/mythics). This is a one-sided sweeper, letting you use your biggest creature’s power to split X damage among your opponents’ creatures as you see fit.
This is, of course, at its best in a deck with large creatures. I currently have this in our Xenagos, God of Revels R/G deck (where Xenagos can actually pump the creature’s power, letting me deal more damage with this card), and Surrak Dragonclaw, which is a deck that just has huge dudes in it.
As an uncommon, this is basically worth nothing, making it a great budget card for decks with large creatures.
Heaven // Earth:
One of two Amonkhet aftermath cards, this is a card where one side is a Hurricane variant, and the other is an Earthquake variant. Now, I like this card less than the next aftermath card on the list today, but it is still useful in a deck where you want to kill flying creatures first, and possibly use it as a Wrath for nonflying creatures later on.
I currently have this in our Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist/Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa four color deck, which is a deck that does care if my opponents have flying creatures. Sidar Kondo makes my creatures unblockable if they have no fliers, so having a Hurricane effect is quite useful to get those creatures out of my way.
Dusk // Dawn:
This was one of the new Amonkhet cards I highlighted a while back, and everything I said then still applies. It’s a Wrath that only hits big dudes (making it quite useful in decks with small token creatures, or something like Doran, the Siege Tower), and then you can flash it back to bring all your dead small dudes back to your hand.
This is a powerful Wrath effect if you build around it, and a useful recursion spell as well. And like many of the cards on this list, this is an excellent budget card.
Kozilek’s Return, Yahenni’s Expertise, and Sweltering Suns:
These cards are not actually that good in EDH (a format full of huge creatures), but I wanted to mention them for the sake of having a complete list.
All three of these spells will kill small creatures. In EDH, most creatures that see play are much too large to be hit by these, so I wouldn’t recommend any of these spells. (Unless your local scene is somehow infested by Goblin players, I guess.)
SWEEPER SPELLS THAT CAN ALSO ATTACK:
One of two planeswalkers on this list, I like this version of Chandra quite a bit for her versatility. Her three modes are simple enough: make two Spark Elementals to attack with, do a mini-Wheel of Fortune effect for you only, or -X to Starstorm.
Even though we are talking today about her use as a Wrath effect (which, as a Starstorm variant, is quite good since X can be whatever you need), it’s worth mentioning that she is quite versatile thanks to the other modes. Are you on the offensive? She can make 3/1 haste creatures to attack with. Do you need a new hand? She can do that too. And unlike most red sweepers, her -X does hit flying creatures (most red sweepers we get are Earthquake variants).
Of all the Chandras printed thus far, I like this one the best for EDH, and that’s saying something since many of the others are very playable.
I have Chandra, Flamecaller in our Tajic, Blade of the Legion Boros control deck, where every one of her modes is useful.
As a planeswalker, she is likely never going to be a budget card, but when she rotates out in the fall, I know I’m going to pick up a few copies. This is a very good card, and if you have a deck that would benefit from her three modes, I’d urge you to try her.
Crush of Tentacles, Aethersquall Ancient, and Thing in the Ice:
Much like the two big sweeper spells above, these three will bounce everything from play. Unlike those two, these will leave you huge monsters in play to attack with, which can be a game changer.
I currently have Crush of Tentacles in our Jalira, Master Polymorphist Sea Monster tribal deck (it’s on theme), and Thing in the Ice is in our Keranos, God of Storms U/R control deck, where it is a huge threat and sweeper.
Descend Upon the Sinful:
Sometimes, you just want your sweeper spells to do simple things. I used to play Final Judgment in EDH, just to exile indestructible cards like Avacyn, Angel of Hope and the Theros Gods. Now, I can play a second copy of it, and one that will occasionally make me an Angel token to attack with.
This is an excellent budget option, a great way to get rid of pesky indestructible dudes or regenerating dudes, and just an overall great card.
This was one of my favorite Conspiracy II cards when it was spoiled, and remains so today. At its base, you get a sorcery-speed Starstorm that costs one less, then it blows up artifacts, then it makes an 8/8 if you pump enough mana into it.
As with the planeswalkers on today’s list, I like this card because of its versatility; you don’t need to spend the extra mana, but if you do, you get extra effects from this Wrath.
Even though this is a mythic, it’s super cheap, and an excellent budget option for red players.
Liliana, Death’s Majesty:
Our final card today is one of the most recent on this list (and was part of my Amonkhet prerelease pool, which was pretty sweet). Liliana is a versatile card in EDH, but her real use comes from being part of a Zombie tribal deck, where she can make Zombie tokens, reanimate dead Zombies, or use her ultimate to Wrath all non-Zombies. She’s very simple, but very effective.
Naturally, I have Liliana in our Dimir Zombie tribal deck, Gisa and Geralf. She is a potent Zombie card, and I expect her to shine in the upcoming Tribal Throwdown tourney.
As a planeswalker, this is not currently a budget option, but it’s worth keeping an eye on her if you are a Zombie player, she’s very good.
So there you have it, that’s a quick look at all the recent Wrath effects that I honestly believe should see more EDH play! Most of these are excellent budget options, and they are all quite potent, so I would definitely urge you to try them out!